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November 17 , 2008

Kit Carson's Autobiography


"Notice is hereby given to all persons, that Christopher Carson, a boy about 16 years old, small of his age, but thick-set; light hair, ran away from the subscriber, living in Franklin, Howard County, Missouri, to whom he had been bound to learn the saddler's trade. . . . One cent reward will be given to any person who will bring back the said boy.''

This notice appeared in the Missouri Intelligencer of October 6, 1826, at about the same time that Kit Carson, in the humble role of "cavvy boy" in Bent's Santa Fé caravan, embarked upon his notable career. Thirty years later, a postgraduate of the University of the Wilderness, and for a decade past a national hero, he was persuaded to dictate to a literate friend his own story of his life to date.

The account—as modest and undemonstrative as Carson's feats were remarkable—covers his life as a trapper, Indian fighter, guide, and buffalo hunter up to the fall of 1856. Among the high spots during these years were his trapping expedition to California with Ewing Young (1829–1831), his celebrated duel with Shunar at the Green River rendezvous of 1837, the three expeditions with John C. Frémont (1842, 1843–1844, 1845), his exploits in the Mexican War (l846–1848), and his service as an Indian agent.

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